11:00—12:30 PM
Center for Global Development

Scaling Up vs. Absorptive Capacity: Challenges and Opportunities for reaching the MDGs in Africa

CGD hosted Paolo de Renzio, a Research Fellow at the Overseas Development Institute in London, for a seminar entitled "Scaling Up vs. Absorptive Capacity: Challenges and Opportunities for reaching the MDGs in Africa."

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2005 promises to be an important year in the global struggle to fight poverty and underdevelopment. In the run up to the UN Conference in September which will assess progress in reaching the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), a number of policy initiatives are being discussed, such as the creation of an International Finance Facility (IFF) and proposals on global taxes to finance development. These will be at the top of the agenda for the UK’s presidency of the G8 and the European Union, with a specific focus on the problems faced by the African continent, as highlighted by the recent release of the Africa Commission Report (2005).

The political momentum, strengthened by the unprecedented solidarity and generosity sparked by the Asian tsunami disaster last December, creates both important opportunities and challenges for development and poverty reduction in the African continent. The ‘scaling up’ of aid flows that could materialize is likely to run up against ‘absorptive capacity’ constraints, unless these are taken into account from the beginning, and adequately addressed in the design and implementation of improved aid delivery mechanisms. The adoption of a more realistic view of some of the political constraints that shape the aid relationship, both on the side of donors and of partner governments, could also assist in avoiding potential problems and failures.
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